Saturday, January 23, 2010

So Quiet...

So, we actually missed a bar in the recap...Elbo Room, #172. This was on a random wednesday or thursday night (I could look it up, but I don't care to right now).
Our plan was to eat fast food Mexican, hit up the Ole Lounge for a very quick drink (our 2nd attempt at going here), then head up the street to the Elbo Room to be entertained with Open Mic night.
Well, step 1 check. Tortas:

Rick and I then head over to the Ole Lounge. The door on Diversey is locked. The door on Lincoln is locked. Bollocks.
So we went across the street for our second ever visit to Patsy's Place, and we watched some of the Oregon Civil War college football game. Remember when that game was? That was forever ago. That's how long it has taken me to write these terrible recaps.
So after a couple of drinks at Patsy's we head back across the street to Elbo Room, finding the doors unlocked this time - it's probably 8:15...their website says they open at 7. Their website is wrong. Back to the story - the doors are unlocked and we walk in. A guy and a girl are there sitting at the bar together, and we approach as if to order drinks. The guy says, "You guys here for the interview?"
us: No.
him: Oh, you'll have to come back later, we're not open.

Screw this place.
We head on up to The Elbo Room, #172, a local music venue. They used to have the Grolsch pop-top bottles here. I order a couple. They don't have them any longer. The Elbo Room has a stage in the basement, the upstairs is fairly loungey and is advertising an "open mic night" starting at 9pm. The place is empty except for us and a few band members who will be playing later tonight entering and exiting the main room repeatedly. It's freezing outside, a good bar would be crowded right now with people seeking shelter from the cold.

While we wait for something to happen (nothing happens), we note that on the outside it's The Elbo Room, and on the inside it's The Elbow Room. Curious.



Back to waiting around for something to happen...
A handful of what must be close friends of the band about to play downstairs show up. Upstairs there's a tv feed of the band playing downstairs. If they gave out awards to bands who played to empty rooms, well this band would be on the list of bands eligible for those awards.
Upstairs a guy shows up and asks Rick and I if we're here to perform in the Open Mic night, and tells us there's a list to sign up by the microphone. An older man asks him when the open mic night starts. It's 9:05. The website said 9:00. The guy says, I don't know, 10:30?
We finish our beers and walk home. In the cold.

Coming very soon: Kyle and Craig discuss the inevitable downfall of Dubai due to their lack of a middle class. (Bars 177 through The End)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Aint Gonna Save Me

We're going to Quenchers on Sunday to kick-off the much less ambitious version of EBONY 2010 -- "Bars in Chicago outside of the Mile Radius We Want To Visit for One Reason or Another, and These Reasons Will Be Explain when We Post About Those Bars". (aka BICOOTMRWWTVFOROAATRWBEWWPATB)
Anyway, Quenchers is having a Stout-fest. We'll drink a lot of Stouts.

I promise before next Tuesday that I will write the final two bar recap entries, and by the end of next week you'll also have the final friends rankings posted, and possibly even the Quenchers recap.

Internet Diversions:
*Black & WTF - a fantastic photoblog featuring only old black and white photos that are incredibly WTF.

*Letters from a grown man pretending to be a child, writing letters to famous people (several of them incarcerated), asking for advice. Also following up on their responses many years later -- Charles Manson, Richard Rodriguez, Alan Greenspan, and my favorite response from Clarence Thomas

Lastly, "The flying V never looked more at home than in his hands" - Sly Larkin


RIP Jay Reatard

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Political Coverage Take 1: Senate

My lack of posts recently is a pure mix of laziness and fatigue from our 2009 adventure. For many of the bars at the end, it was difficult enough to get my foot out the door, let alone writing a recap in the days to follow. I plan to pull my weight through 2010 in a different angle to 2009. We may see less writing on bars/drinking excursions (as we have an exclusive list of bars for 2010), than say current event commentary on my part.

This first installment will center on the upcoming elections for us Chicagoans. The expressed views are solely those of my own and do not necessarily reflect everyone associated with EBONY. The 2010 off-cycle primaries offer all the major political seats up for grabs. The most heated and important open positions are those for Senator, Governor, and President of Cook County. We also have other critical openings for Congress, Lt. Governor (thanks to our recent impeachment), Comptroller, Treasurer, along with the numerous less significant seats that I don’t have time to do any research for. Open your calendars as the primary vote is on February 2nd, while early voting begins on January 11th. I also recommend checking out the Chicago Tribunes coverage of each candidate.

SENATE

This is arguably the most important open position, so do your research kids. Thankfully the time for our embarrassment of a senator in Roland Burris is finally over, and we Illinoisans actually have a say in who represents us. Senate elections across the country have an added importance as the Democratic party currently has the magic number of 60 seats to block any filibuster. In my brief voting eligible years, I have voted Democratic more than Republican, but I do believe it is bad for one party to have a major control in the senate or hourse. The Republicans are looking at a strong likelihood to gain 1-3 seats after this whole election cycle is over, especially with the difficulty for the Democrats to keep North Dakota and Delaware, while Nevada, Colorado, Arkansas, and Pennsylvania can be complete toss-ups. A Republican takeover of the Illinois seat also has a decent likelihood. No matter what though, none of these seats will be officially filled until after the general election in November, so until then, the D’s are still holding the magic number for another year (unless of course Scott Brown pulls the upset in the Massachusetts special election, wouldn’t that put an interesting twist on the revised healthcare vote?).

As far as Illinois, everyone out there needs to tune in to ABC next Tuesday the 12th for the first televised debate. On the Democratic side it is a battle between Alexi Giannoulias, David Hoffman, and Cheryle Jackson. In recent polls (these need to be taken with a grain of salt, as primary polls, especially in off-cycle elections carry a large variability) Alexi is the favorite to get on the D ticket. I am very troubled and confused about his popularity. Through Alexi’s young life he has only held two jobs – taking over his family’s bank and being the current Illinois treasurer – and has failed/bankrupted both. I encourage every voter to read The Reader’s investigative reporting on Alexi’s albatross with Broadway Bank. And if that wasn’t bad enough, look at the economic shambles our state has recently suffered. Now yes, I realize that everyone has suffered the last 2 years with the economic landslide, so you can’t completely blame Alexi. But you can and should but blame on him for his lack of responsibility and transparency of his mismanagement of the Bright Star Program. This program allows families across the state to invest now and then use their future pot to pay for their children’s college education completely tax-free. Tens of thousands of families across Illinois take advantage of this program. It was Alexi’s responsibility to make sure these investments carried minimal risk (as we are looking at the long-term success) for the families involved. Unfortunately for the 65,000 families who invested in this program, they now only have 50 cents on the dollar of their investment. The Giannoulias campaign admitted a month ago that they made bad investments and lost over $85M, but reassured the people that they were suing Oppenheimer to recover $77M of that for a net loss of only $8M. The only problem was that the Giannoulias campaign lied about the $85M figure and recent research uncovered shows that they actually lost $150M! To top it off, Alexi is using his near limitless war chest to paint a positive picture of this fiasco in that he is standing up for Illinoisans by suing Oppenheimer. Somehow he forgot to mention that is was his responsibility to choose the risky investments and that the $77M coming back is not even half of what was put in. This was released 2 weeks ago, and the Giannoulias campaign has yet to say one peep about it. From a political standpoint, I don’t blame him. The only reason he is leading on polls is because of name recognition, so they feel it is easier to brush this under the rug and ignore it completely. I challenge anyone from Alexi’s campaign to apologize and explain this mishap. And yet, even with this giant black cloud over Alexi’s head, I still haven’t touched on his suspicious ties to those in the Daley Machine. The last thing we need right now is another financially irresponsible crooked politician.

Jackson and Hoffman are running neck-and-neck on the podium for second place. I personally endorse David Hoffman for senate. I have nothing against Jackson, but I honestly believe that Hoffman is the best candidate out there. I may not agree with all his policies, but I think he is the right man for the job (a la Obama). My personal belief with electing political officials is that I want the most intelligent person representing me. If you are going to hold one of the important jobs in politics, I want you to be in the 95th percentile. This includes IQ, but more importantly I want someone who has willingly showed that he/she will look at both sides of the debate in a fair manor before coming to a conclusion. I am sick of Democrats who only vote for liberal policies and Republicans who only vote on the conservative end of the spectrum. We need politicians down the middle. I believe David Hoffman best holds this criteria and that is why he has my support. I also strongly believe that we need a reformer in DC, and with Hoffman’s background as the Inspector General of Chicago (basically this means he is Daley’s public enemy #1), he is a perfect match. With him being the whistleblower on getting financially hosed in the parking meter privatization deal, he has earned a +1. Hoffman also has the endorsement of Paul Vallas, which may not have the political pull it did 4 years ago; it still is the biggest endorsement any of the candidates have received. The one redeeming factor in having Hoffman lose is that he would most likely be Daley’s biggest challenge in the mayoral election next year, with presumably increased name recognition after this run.

On the Republican side the only real candidate to speak of is Mark Kirk. As long as the recent low-blow and homophobic attacks by Andy Martin (if he hasn’t changed his name again) doesn’t coagulate the conservative base, Kirk should win in a landslide. When Kirk first made his intentions to run for senate, I had high hopes for the socially liberal centrist-republican from the very liberal congressional district in the North Shore. I find him to be a very intelligent individual who sometimes makes some really stupid decisions. He has also decided to take a page out of John McCain’s playbook and flip-flop on some of his liberal leaning objectives to get his base on his side. I’m not sure it makes a difference to the true conservatives in the state as Pat Brady, the Illinois Republican Party Chairmen isn’t even a fan of him. If the R party was smart, they would realize their only chance to win this election is if they pooled all their resources in to Kirk’s campaign. Yet somehow this eludes too many conservatives who refuse to vote for anyone who is pro choice. Being stubborn is not a virtue folks. If it comes down to an Alexi vs. Kirk in the finale, I have no qualms voting for the Republican ticket on this one.

This ended up being a longer post that I originally intended, so my thoughts and feelings on the Governor and Cook County Board President elections will have to come in the near future.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Delia's Gone, One More Round, Delia's Gone

While you await us putting an end to this period of Holiday-time vacation we’ve taken from updating our Quest (we finished, by the way…posts forthcoming), I’ll just write some random reflections on one of the most interesting resolutions I’ve ever managed to keep for an entire year.

• Over the holiday I told many people that “I’m tired of going to bars.” That’s not entirely true. I’m tired of going to bars that I’m *required* to attend. Several of the last places we visited were venues we held off on going to simply because we didn’t actually want to go there. Our last weekend of bar hopping has been dubbed “The Garbage Weekend” due to the general strangeness of most places we had a drink.
• Our 2010 plans for the Empty Blog of Nothing will be “officially” announced soon. They’re not nearly as ambitious as we were in 2009. Honestly, our 2009 goal at times seemed like one of the worst ideas I’ve ever tried to carry out.
• As proof that I haven’t tired of going to bars…I’ve been to 4 already in 2010. Yikes.
• We will, however, try to keep posting semi-regularly, and hopefully about things that you readers will find interesting. Like, we’re both running the Boston Marathon in April, so maybe there will be training updates. We both go to a lot of concerts (I saw 87 bands in ’09), so maybe we’ll check in from time to time on what we’re listening to. We’ll still write about evenings (or entire days) spent on the bar scene, but not so much that every post reads “We went here, here, and here. They were all terrible.” Basically, there will probably be more variety in these parts than in 2009. Maybe Rick will be nice enough to give us a recap of the shenanigans surrounding the IL Senate Race prior to the primary election on February 2nd.
• We’ve turned into the “go-to” people for determining destinations in our neighborhood. About every Thursday and Friday I get at least one email from someone listing the requirements of the nightspot they want to attend in my neighborhood, hoping I have the perfect buffet list of places for them to visit. I’m not gonna lie…usually I do.
• More so than the specific “place” of drinking, however, this year we discovered (well, not so much “discovered” as “reinforced”) that the most important ingredient to having a good time while carousing through Chicago is the people you surround yourself with. Our friends, new & old, embraced our 2009 mission and offered all kinds of encouragement. We thank you. Everyone from Internet Celebrity Baumer, to the former members of the 907, to our runner friends more dedicated to sport than to drink, and to the girls that I think show up just to laugh at us dancing…Thank You. Your attendance during our year of drinking locally made terrible bars bearable. It made great bars places that show up repeatedly on the lists I produce for the previous bullet point. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.


Lastly, since we’re both voracious consumers of all things internet, maybe we’ll try to post more links to things that people should be reading. Here’s a few, and one of my favorites from this past year:
• FiveThirtyEight.com offers up Onion-worthy satire: Ben Nelson Trails Jesus in Latest Election Polling
• Here’s a great post from Chicago Justice about the local media’s inability to understand or even bother using and reporting on anything other than the yearly homicide rates. Here
• And finally… the Eternal Moonwalk…still Moonwalking (well yeah, it’s Eternal), and most people are still terrible at it. Like playing golf…the great shot from time to time is worth dealing with the terrible ones.

Thanks for reading. Final Bar recaps coming soon. Really! I promise. As soon as I get around to them.

(re: post title. There's a lot of bullets. Using the Smashing Pumpkins song was too easy)